Friday, March 30, 2007

Lots to Say, No Time to Say It

Hey everybody...

Just checking in--I just got home after running around all day. Turns out that my niece Allison is here with her husband Mike--his band, Savannah Jack, is playing at the Casbar Lounge at the Sahara all week, and she flew in last night to visit for the weekend. So we had lunch together over at Grand Luxe. My buddy Ed W from Phoenix and his wife Michelle are also in town, so they joined us.

So I spent my afternoon at the Venetian having lunch and then hanging out in the lounge drinking some "Sticky Juice" and smoking a cigar. I also won a quick $60 on the Wheel of Fortune machine while waiting for everyone to show up, so the lunch tab was paid for.

Anyhow, I've got about an hour before I start getting ready for work, so I'm going to relax and maybe catch a catnap first. At some point this weekend I'll catch up on this weeks' activities, plus post a brief photo-trip report over on Travel2Vegas.

Should be some stuff here for you by Monday morning.


Thursday, March 29, 2007

No Mail

Hey everybody...

I finally got the new computer set up, and the old shiatty one taken down. I haven't done the whole move-all-the-files-over thing just yet, I've been too busy to babysit the process. Anyhow, one of the side effects of all this is that my new email setup isn't working just yet, and I haven't pulled my address book over, either. Additionally, when I got back from a week away at the Madness, I had about three hundred emails waiting for me.

I never got around to reading or answering them (in addition to the server problems I was having two weeks previous to that), and then today realized that I don't have access to them here on the new machine. So chances are that most of them will go unanswered--I'm certainly not going to hook up the old machine anytime soon, and it'll probably be a few weeks before I get all the files moved over anyways.

So I send out an apology to all who have emailed me in the past three weeks or so that I haven't gotten back to. Chances are, I won't be answering any emails anytime soon, and even new ones are tied up on the server--I'm still having some minor problems and can't download anything yet. But we're working on it.

Anyhow, that's the news.

I've got more posting to do, but I'm damn short on time this week.


Wednesday, March 28, 2007

The Madness Never Ends

Yes, I know that everyone is patiently waiting for an official March Madness trip report detailing all of the buffoonery in words and pictures, and it's on the way. And even though the vast majority of buffoons have since returned home to the real world, the silliness continues here in America's Playground.

LV Dawn is in town this week, having arrived just as the T2V poker tournament was winding down on Saturday. Since we were both free last night, we decided to get together for some old-school Vegas-style tourism.

I picked her up out in front of Mandalay Bay around 5:30 or so, and we headed down the Strip to Paris. Once there, we hit the Diamond Lounge for free cocktails and appetizers. For a private club, it's a nice place to relax, but it seems that if Harrahs wanted to treat their best customers well, they could do a better job. It's nice, but as far as lounges go, it's nothing special. It's just another room in the resort where the unclean masses aren't allowed access. And, since it's Harrahs, the club membership really isn't that exclusive or cool--it's mostly a bunch of slot-pounding old ladies sitting around bitching about their point balances and stiffing the wait staff.

But there was a decent variety of cheese, crackers, and fruit available, and it was nice to sit, nibble, and catch up while testing the bartenders martini-making abilities. We stayed in there for a little over an hour, three rounds worth to be specific, before moving on and heading over to Bally's.

We had tickets to see Jubilee, a show I've been mildly intrigued by ever since I first started coming to Vegas. I've been to a few shows out here (Mama Mia, The Scintas, The Rat Pack Tribute, Havana Night Club, Phantom) but I've never seen one of the old-school Vegas productions with topless showgirls wearing nothing but g-strings and huge hats. So when Dawn scored some free tickets, I agreed to go with her.

Before hitting the theatre, we wandered the casino a bit and played some Blazing 7's 5-reel penny machines. Sticky and I played them over at the MGM Grand back in January and had moderate success, but last night's machines were set to "Harrahs tight" and just took our money away.

Oooooh, look at all the pretty lights! That'll be twenty dollars...

We wandered over to the Jubilee Theatre after that and were seated immediately in Row A. Not exactly in front, as there were three rows of cocktail tables in front of us, but we were in the first row of theatre seats, a few feet higher than the tables and booths, maybe 20 feet from the stage. Excellent seats.

The first thing I noticed about the show was that there was no live orchestra. It was all recorded music. Of course I didn't much care about that once about three dozen topless women came strutting by wearing nothing but high heels, sequins, and fake eyelashes. Oh, I think they may have danced and sang a little too, but nobody really knows for sure.

The show, although entertaining, is in some serious need of updating. The sets, although very elaborate, seemed like they were straight from 1978, leftover from the Sonny and Cher variety hour. Maybe the Donnie and Marie show. I don't remember, it's been years. But the bottom line is that while the show is visually stunning--the costumes are outrageous--it is in desperate need of an overhaul. There were some highlights though--the two Chinese acrobats (greasemen, according to Danny Ocean) were amazing, and the three Argentinian drummers/ball dancers were a lot of fun to see, also.

I think the biggest problem with the show is that there is no continuity whatsoever--no story, no theme, just a bunch of Broadway-style songs and huge set changes that have nothing to do with each other. It was almost like seeing a talent show with no master of ceremonies. Just one unrelated song after another, which seemed kind of odd to me. Overall, it was a decent show, but it was like seeing a show in the 70's which was nostalgic for the 50's doing a tribute to the 30's.

Am I glad I saw it? Yes! Would I see it again? Doubtful. Was it worth the money? Yes--the tickets were free.

After the show ended and we were shuffling off to the restrooms with the rest of the crowd, I checked my phone and saw that Ed W had left me a message. He and his wife Michelle are on their way up this weekend and want to get together. That means that I'll have had friends in town every day since March 13th through April 1st.

Funny, nobody ever wanted to come visit me in Nashville...

Once we left Bally's we caught a cab down to the Fashion Show mall and had dinner at Maggiano's again. Dawn introduced me to this place a year ago and I loved it. Probably the best 'chain' restaurant I've ever been to. Hell, it's even a hit now with the rest of the the T2V buffoons.

But we ordered way too much food, and I have a fridge full of leftovers to enjoy for the rest of the week. We had four cheese ravioli, calimari (which was burned and we sent back), antipasti salad, chicken piccata (sp?), and baked ziti with Italian sausage. Forget dessert, we could hardly walk out of there.

Once dinner had concluded and we got back to Paris to fetch the truck, we were spent. I dropped Dawn off at Mandalay Bay, said goodnight and made plans to get together later this afternoon, and I headed home and went straight to bed.

I've got a couple of hours before her meetings wrap up, but the plan is to hit a restaurant at any MGM/Mirage property since she has $80 worth of comps to use up. I think we're leaning toward Isla at Treasure Island. After dinner we say goodbye until next time, and then I'm heading over to the Rio to deal a poker tournament.

It should be a fun evening.

I'll catch up tomorrow.


Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Home Again

I'm back, baby!

Yep, the Madness is over for another year, and it was a rousing success. I had a load of fun, didn't lose too much money, and laughed my ass off for almost a week straight.

I also finally bought that new computer that I've needed for the past couple of years, a Toshiba laptop with all the bells and whistles, but ironically I'm making this post on the old machine. I have to go by Fry's later today and pick up a new mouse that has a USB cable. The track pad is fine, but it's a pain in the ass sometimes, and a mouse is just easier if I'm using it at my desk. So I'm still using the old today, but the new one is pretty damn cool. And the speed... Oh hell yeah.

I went back to work last night for the first time in a week, and yeah, it sucked. At least it was for only one day, though. I'm off today and tomorrow, so a bit of recovery was looking good, but then I realized LV Dawn is here in town, and we have tickets to see Jubilee tonight at Bally's, then we'll hit the Diamond Lounge at Paris for some snacks and drinks or maybe have a late dinner somewhere. Tomorrow night, instead of having a night off, I'm dealing a private poker tournament over at the Rio for about four or five hours. It's only $20 per hour but it's good practice, and now that the Madness has concluded, I could certainly use an extra hundred bucks.

I go back to work like normal on Thursday night, but I got an email from my old Phoenix buddy, Ed W, and he and his wife are coming up for the weekend. Since I'm working every night, there is no buffoonery on tap, but we have plans to meet up for lunch and maybe a cigar or two.

Speaking of cigars, I met up with George, Marlisha, and Drew yesterday for breakfast at the Peppermill, and Drew was kind enough to bring me a box of my favorite cigars, Partagas Black Labels. George had brought a few Cuban sticks with him too, so after breakfast was finished we hung out in the Fireside Lounge drinking some of Krista's special martinis and smoking fine cigars.

It was relaxing, but unfortunately I had to run and meet Angy at the Imperial Palace at 2:00 pm so she could check out and get back to the airport. I also had to pick up my big blue cooler that was full of leftover beer and a few bottles of rum, so I couldn't linger as long as I wanted.

Once that last bit was taken care of, it seemed like the Madness was officially over. It actually started winding down on Sunday when Dougie, Doc, and Sticky went home, but saying goodbye to Angy at the airport meant that the finish line had been crossed.

It was a great time. I hope to be able to post pictures and write a bit of a report, but I think I'll post it over on so all the Vegas degenerates can add their own pictures and whatnot if they want.

I'll be back to making regular updates as soon as I can think of something interesting to say.


Sunday, March 18, 2007

The Busy Week BEFORE The Busy Week

Hey gang, sorry I haven't updated since Wednesday, but I have been mucho busiado this past week working, preparing for the Madness, and being sick.

Yep, that head cold has been lingering, and no amount of drugs, rest, or hippie-style alternative therapy seems to be helping. I just hope it's gone by the time Tuesday afternoon rolls around.

As far as the auditions go, I never heard from the formal one--obviously I didn't make the cut. And the second one--no positions were actually open, they were just fishing, or as far as I can tell, training the new shift manager how to run an audition, so nothing came of that, either. Basically it was a waste of time. And speaking of auditions, the casting director of Thunder from Down Under called with the bad news that I was too straight and my fake Austrailian accent wasn't good enough, either...

Just can't catch a break in this town. Oh well, I guess it's back to the underground card clubs, dealing to Worm, Mike McD, and all the Russian mobsters for now.

In the meantime, I've got two more full days of work until I pick Sticky up at the airport, and then the Madness officially begins. We've got no plans for Tuesday except a little Treasure Island Pai Gow and a bit of poker at the Mirage. On Wednesday the rest of the citizens of Buffoon Nation start arriving and I will likely be reduced to a slobbering mess for the rest of the week.

I can't wait, because I've been a slobbering mess on several occasions in the past, but this time it'll have an air of legitimacy about it.

There has been a wee bit of March Madness buffoonery on tap this past week, which has also contributed to my busy-ness. On Tuesday I got to have lunch with Jay from Ohio down at the Triple Seven Brew Pub at Main Street Station. We had an enjoyable visit and he was kind enough to be representin' with his O-fficial Hurricane Mikey t-shirt. We had a great meal of hot wings and burgers, and a good conversation about two of my favorite subjects--gambling and sailing--so the time just flew by. It was a good time.

The next night, Steve B from DC called, a little bitter that the festivities were moved back a week, but still happy to be in Vegas with pocket full of cash and a handful of parlay tickets. I drove downtown again and met him at the brewpub, and we had a pretty damn good steak dinner and drank several gallons of the monthly Brewmaster's Special--Strawberry Cream Ale. Damn, that stuff was sooooo good. Way better than Petes Wicked Strawberry Blonde, and not one hint of bitter aftertaste.

We gave Falcon Rob a call, and he was also lurking about down on Fremont Street at the time, pounding the pavement, looking to escape the $1 craps game Purgatory at Nevada Palace. So the three of us sat in the brewpub for several hours, just getting lit up and telling stories, but finally put the brakes on around midnight. We wandered out to the casino and sat around a bank of 5-play video poker machines that Steve likes, and watched him play while we sobered up.

Which turned out to be a great idea.

Finally, around 3:00 am, we decided to call it a night. I fetched my truck from the valet and made my way home, but not before getting pulled over by one of Clark County's Finest Donut Eaters On A Motorbike. Of course I was stone-cold sober at the time, and the guy didn't even ask if I'd been drinking, but I was doing 51 mph on Eastern Ave, where the speed limit is only 35. Kinda sucks--it's six lanes wide, and during the day you'd be lucky to hit 30 mph because it's usually gridlocked.

Anyhow, long story short, Mikey got a $300 speeding ticket. I've got to call the court tomorrow to find out about traffic school, because I certainly don't want that showing up on my already outrageous $193 per month insurance bill (with no tickets or accidents in over ten years!). But I made it home without further incident.

Thursday after work I met up with Steve again, and again we used his "anything you want is free for you and your guests" status at the brewpub for a couple of hours, but this time I was smart enough to take the freeway home instead of Eastern, in case Mr. Knievel was looking to go two-for-two this week.

Being that it's the first weekend of March Madness, we've been super-busy at work too. I'm happy to report that Thursday and Friday night we made more money than we did on New Years Eve and the Super Bowl combined, so I'm looking forward to collecting that paycheck. I've also been dealing dice the past few nights after 2:00 am, which has been nice because I need the practice and most of the fleas are gone by then.

That's about all that's happening here. If I have the time or the mood strikes, I'll try and make another update or two before I head down to the Strip and start acting like a tourist. Otherwise, you may not hear from me for awhile.

Peace out!


Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Casting Call

The Madness is just over the horizon, and even though I'm already here, I'm getting excited for all of the buffoonery on tap. I can't wait to see everyone.

I've been running myself ragged these past few days, but I finally feel like I've gotten some rest and I'm up early this morning ready to face the day. I've got a steaming hot monster-sized cup of coffee on the desk and an unfinished bracket sheet in front of me. And plenty of catching up to do.

First things first. The poker audition on Monday went very well. It was different than any audition I'd done before on live pit games, but here's how the day went...

I worked late the night before, as usual, and due to stressing over the audition, I couldn't sleep at all, so I was up all night. I've also been fighting a minor head cold for the past several days, so that kept me from sleeping, too. I got out of bed, having stayed up watching ESPN for several hours, made a pot of coffee, ran a couple of errands, and then headed to school to practice.

I rolled into school around 10:30 in the morning, but my audition wasn't until 4:00 pm. I figured a good solid four hours of practice would be enough, but after about two hours I was bored. Nick was saying I was "beyond ready" and there's no reason I shouldn't be working as a poker dealer by now. I took a couple of turns "in the box" dealing Omaha Hi-Low and some 2-4 Holdem to fellow students, and did fine. I also spent about an hour dealing a table full of Omaha hands to empty seats and setting up complicated boards/community cards to give me practice reading hands.

Finally around 2:30 I decided to go home, take a quick 'pick me up' shower, and get dressed in my black and whites. I had brought a gym bag with me with my audition clothes in it and had planned on getting changed at school, but I was too tired to stay there all afternoon.

The drive home and shower did me good, and by the time I got to the casino I was feeling much better. I found the tournament director who was doing the audition, and looked over the live games trying to figure out where they were likely to stick me.

Well, poker auditions, at least this one, are a whole lot different than auditioning for a dice-dealing job. First of all, they didn't put me in a live game. They had a tournament table set up and there were seven other guys there dressed in black-and-whites who joined me. We drew cards for position (I got the 3 of Spades--third one up), were issued $3000 worth of tournament chips each, and then took turns 'in the box' dealing to the other auditionees. We each had to deal 2 hands of Omaha Hi-Low (thank god I practiced all morning) and one hand of No-Limit Holdem, while the other dealers played like they were in a real game.

The first guy on the chopping block was I guy I went to school with, and he did very well. No noticable mistakes, good technique, and he called the game well. I'm sure he's on the short list. The second guy was pretty bad. He had a great personality, but the tattoos on his knuckles probably didn't help. And he was an awful dealer--very sloppy, lots of mistakes--I actually felt sorry for him.

I was up next, and have to admit that I thought that I did very well. I didn't misread any hands, didn't screw up dealing the cards out, didn't burn or turn cards I shouldn't have, my pots, muck, and stubs were neat and separated properly, and my board was straight and professional looking, not sloppy. The only mistake that I was aware of was missing a buck on the rake on one hand, and not taking any of the rake until the turn on one hand (not a mistake per se, but you want to take the rake on time in case everyone folds--it looks shitty to take a couple of bucks out of the pot when everyone is watching just as you push it. Players don't even notice when it's taken properly).

Anyhow, my turn under the microscope went well, and there was an unspoken gentleman's agreement at the table to not act like the jerkoffs at school who feel the need to go all-in every hand and create multiple sidepots "because that's what you're gonna see in the real world". Not really. I've played live poker for several years now and can count on one hand the number of times I've seen three side-pots in one hand. But in school, during the mock games, there are sidepots on every fucking hand because every dumbass who signed a tuition check feels the need to play 'instructor'. Luckily there was none of that nonsense on display at the audition. I think that the stern warning from the tournament director that You are all on audition until the last dealer finishes his turn... might've had something to do with it.

Anyhow, once I finished, before I left my seat I made sure the button was "right", unlike the first two guys, which I'm sure helped my chances.

So I played it out for the benefit of the other guys, and all told, it took a little over an hour to finish up all of the auditions. Again, much different than pit games, where both times I've gone on auditions for those, I was offered a position right on the spot. But the tourney director told us that they would take two days to make decisions and get back to everyone by Friday afternoon.

After we were dismissed, several of the other guys came up and told me that I did really well and stuff like "dude--you've got the job!", so I'm feeling fairly confident. However, there are a couple of caveats. The casino in question is only hiring three dealers, and they auditioned at least 18 people that I know of. Most casinos also want unlimited availability, but I'm not going to quit my full-time job just yet, so scheduling may be an issue. However, they also told us before we left that they'd also be bringing a couple more people on as "temps" for 90 days because starting in April they had several big tournaments, and after 90 days they could possibly move to extra-board status (basically an on-call part-timer with no benefits, which is the initial status of everyone who gets a dealing job in this town, no matter how big or small the casino is--I was on the extra board for eight months at my current job. Dealers at Caesars and Bellagio and the like can be on the extra board for several years before they achieve full-time status). I think I'd be cool with temp status, too--not too much extra work, but lucrative tournament money on occasion, plus the experience would be a Good Thing.

We'll see how it goes. But as of 8:30 this morning, my phone hasn't rung yet.

Since Monday morning, I've also been asked to deal a private tournament at the Rio the day after Sticky and I check out at the end of the Madness. It's my night off, so I told them I'd do it. And if the past few years have been any indication, I'm sure that I'll be needing the money at that point anyways. I also have another audition tomorrow afternoon with a casino that's part of the Evil Empire industry leader in players' club innovation and marketing.


I know it might be considered a dance with the devil according to most of my readers, but life is full of compromises, and I realize that there's not a poker equivalent of 6:5 blackjack. Of course, they could try and raise the rake, but the competition is too stiff to try anything like that. If anything, rakes are going down, not up. (I know this to be a fact, because I've been practicing a 10% rake for the past year, but on my audition we had to do a 5% rake on the no-limit games because that's what they're going to. Good news for no-limit cash players!). That was another point in my favor on the audition--most people stumble a bit with a 5% rake, but since I've been dealing Pai Gow for the last year, figuring 5% of the pot is second-nature to me.

Yes, figuring the rake, especially at 10% sounds simple, and it is, taken out of context. But controlling a 10-player game, counting the pot, and juggling all of the other plates involved in dealing a cash game adds a degree of difficulty to the equation. It's not as simple as it sounds when you're the one wearing the bow tie.

Anyhow, I'm going to do that other audition, and honestly I have no preference as to which job I'd be offered, if any. Both would be good ones. Even if neither one works out, it's still good experience to audition as often as possible. It only gets easier after the first one.

And having gotten that first one out of the way, I'm sure I'll be able to sleep just fine tonight.


Monday, March 12, 2007

Monday Morning Quickie

Hey Gang!

Just poppin' in to say that I probably won't be posting anything until later on Tuesday evening. I've had a heck of a long weekend, and today is shaping up to be more of the same. I found out late on Friday evening that I had an audition today--for a poker dealing job--so I'm off to school to practice all day as soon as they open the doors. The audition isn't until 4:00 pm this afternoon, so I figure four good hours of practice should be enough for a 20-minute audition. I should be getting out of there in just enough time to fight rush-hour traffic, leaving me maybe an hour to rest before heading back into work.

Also, I've had email issues for the past several days, some mail getting through, some not. And for most of the weekend I've had no access to email whatsoever--my Outlook didn't work, and even going through webmail was unsuccessful. I tried contacting Go Daddy, and all they could tell me was that they were aware of the problem and were working on it. Suddenly yesterday afternoon it was fixed, and I got hit with a deluge of emails that for some reason had never been received--some as much as a week old. So I'm sifting through that mess, too.

I only got a couple of hours of sleep last night, so today is all about the caffeine. Hopefully I'll remain awake and do well enough with the audition to be offered a job on the spot (as has happened with the only other two auditions I've ever done). If that happens, work will be somewhat relaxing tonight as I have the sublime pleasure of figuring out my next move. As The Clash used to say... Should I stay or should I go now?

We'll see. I'm thinking that I'd like to keep two jobs for awhile and get some money in the bank and be able to afford some new toys and a real vacation later this summer.

In the meantime, y'all have a happy Monday. Catch ya tomorrow night.


Saturday, March 10, 2007

Can't Sleep--

...might as well do some writing.

Well, that brief post about classic rock I tossed up here a couple days ago had the intended results--a few snarky comments and a goofy email or two.

I guess some clarification is in order. First of all, one doesn't have to be a music critic to know what sucks. Nor does one have to carry Cameron Crowe's credentials to know a hit when they hear one. I doubt I have any official music critics in my audience, but I'm fairly certain that we can all agree that stuff like We Built This City by Starship is a crap on a stick as far as music is concerned.

The same goes for *good* music--there are some songs that are almost universal hits. Is it because the groups are so mega-talented that we can't help but love the product? Certainly true in the case of U2, Stevie Wonder, or Van Halen, for instance. Sometimes the biggest hits--the "good" music--is the simple stuff that just follows the rules--theory, chord structure, and tempo. As a has-been semi-musician, I was always amazed at the simplicity of stuff by Led Zeppelin, Kiss, and Guns N Roses. All three where huge supergroups and their music holds up to the test of time. But it was simple stuff--easy to learn and simple to play if you knew your scales. Of course, the technique of getting a certain sound out of your equipment is where the real art comes in, but the fact that someone as untalented as I could sit down and figure out how to play a killer tune like Rock-n-Roll by Led Zep after a few short minutes goes to show the genius of their music. Something so powerful out of such simple ingredients.

Three chords and the truth, brothers and sisters.

In order to be a "hit" a song has to appeal to the masses, and that's what simple songs do. Try listening to Answer the Phone by Sugar Ray, or hell, even Ring of Fire by Johnny Cash and try to keep from tapping your foot, bobbing your head, or dancing in your seat. It's almost impossible. Both are simple. They follow the rules. Notes happen when and where they're supposed to happen. There are no suprises. Hit songs.

The problem nowadays is that the masses are so dumbed-down that the crappiest drivel comprise what passes for hit music. There are no talented 'bands' out there tearing up the landscape and laying waste to the musical scene. There is no passion. Kids don't yearn for the next Kiss concert to come to town. Detroit Rock City would never happen in 2007. Instead of supergroups with stadium tours, we have American Idol and a bunch of oversampled crap called hip-hop. In 1979, eleven people were trampled to death trying to get into a general-admission Who concert in Cincinnati. Nowadays the only way to get killed in a music venue (aside from attending a Great White reunion show) is to 'disrespect' somebody at a hip-hop concert--then your ass will get capped.

Would Kelly Clarkson or Taylor Hicks cause a stampede? Only to the exits, I'm afraid...

I guess my point is that there is no more great rock being recorded. In my estimation, the Gin Blossoms and The Offspring were the last good bands. I keep waiting for the next one, but I keep getting disappointed. The Wallflowers, Franz Ferdinand, The Strokes--I had high hopes for all. What happened to them? The Killers? Can they keep it up and last more than a season or two? I hope so. But we'll see, and honestly, I'm not holding my breath.

Good, solid, play-by-the-rules rock and roll is a thing of the past. Everybody has to have a gimmick or a certain look to sell music today. Ted Nugent didn't have to look good to sell out arenas. Tom Petty certainly doesn't, either.

I'm just waiting for somebody with some talent and an appreciation for the audience to step up and make an appearance. Unfortunately, having spent much time in the world of musicians, it's not likely to happen. Musicians don't care about audiences beyond the point of the money they bring in. Musicians, for the most part, are the most selfish and nihilistic beings on earth. They all think they're undiscovered and unappreciated geniuses, and once a song takes off, they don't want to play the hits anymore. It's boring. Seriously... Go to a Counting Crows or a Cult concert and try to sing along with the songs that you know. It's impossible. The groups are so bored of playing the same stuff all the time that that they purposely change up their biggest hits--much to the frustration of the fans who shelled out $75 to hear their favorite group live, and yet come away feeling like they got robbed.

But it's a delicate balance--Boston is a fine group, but damn, how many times can you listen to More Than A Feeling before you want to beat shit out of a Red Sox fan? Of course I blame mainstream radio for that--Album Oriented Rock took a page from the Top 40 stations and just play the same shiat over and over again until it's no longer a song, it becomes a joke, a caricature of it's former self.

Hell, I can't listen to Stairway to Heaven anymore without thinking of that scene in the music store from Wayne's World. Stairway denied! And Freebird--my god--one of the greatest rock anthems ever, and now it's a running joke that whenever any house band takes a pause and asks for requests, some wag in the audience, usually me, yells FREEBIRD! and it always gets a laugh. Paradise By the Dashboard Light? It's been relegated to Karaoke status, only brought out when a duet is needed and Love Shack just won't do...

Maybe I painted with a broad brush when I said I never wanted to hear anything by Boston, Kansas, Heart, or McCartney ever again. They had their moments, I suppose, but I swear, Magic Man is enough to make a person wish to take a club and beat the ever-lovin' shit out of anyone named Wilson who happens to cross their path. It's that bad.

It makes me wonder, however... How could the Steve Miller Band, who turned out such great tunes like Big Old Jet Airliner and Keep A-Rockin' Me Baby have ever released something as craptacular as Abracadabra? Honestly--do you think he ever stares at the embers in his fireplace on a cold winter night and feels the least bit of shame and wishes he'd never written that? Or do you think he smiles to himself with a wry grin and says "Damn, I can't believe people bought that shit?"

Luckily technology has solved that problem. I don't buy that shit anymore.

Unless, of course, a good group finally comes along.


Thursday, March 08, 2007

Classic Rock

I have some fairly eclectic musical tastes, and as long as the music is actually good, I'll probably listen to it. But I swear to God, if I go the rest of my days without ever hearing another song by Kansas, Heart, Boston, or Paul McCartney, I'd be ok with it.

Seriously, them right there's the Four Horsemen of shitty music.

That is all.



It's been a fairly relaxing 'weekend', and although I caught a little bit of normal-hours shut-eye, I'm wide awake right now, as I usually am at 4:00 am. I haven't done much at all these past few days, except for a lot of reading. The weather has been nice and I've enjoyed the sunshine and fresh air a bit, but mostly I've been reading--just finished an entire website done by a guy who's been sailing around the world for the past seven years or so. Fantastic stuff, and very inspirational for somebody like me.

I've also started reading An Embarrassment of Mangoes, given to me as a post-Christmas present from Sticky during her last visit. I haven't gotten too deep into it yet, but so far so good.

Last night I also had the pleasure of meeting up with Falcon Rob for dinner and a couple hours of great conversation about time spent behind a low-limit craps table. It's interesting to hear his take on things, having dropped everything and moved to Vegas to work in the casino world just like I did, only two years later.

Now that he's working, we have Wednesday nights as a common night off, so we decided to get together. Of course, now that the weather is nice, we're talking about firing up the grill and cooking up those Omaha Steaks that LV Terry was kind enough to send along, but last night we decided to have dinner at New York Pizza & Pasta over on Jones and Sahara on the west side.

And I can say again with full confidence that NYP&P is even better than Metro Pizza. It's truly authentic NY-style pizza, and last night's offerings were so tasty that we ate till we could eat no more. In fact, it's so good that we purposely ordered two large pizzas so that we could both have some leftovers for lunch today. We started with an order of garlic knots, which were basically twisted breadsticks drenched in melted butter and garlic, served with a side of marinara sauce. They were good, but not what we'd come for.

We ordered a hearty pepperoni and sausage pie, full of greasy and salty goodness, along with a ham and onion pie, where the smokiness of the ham was perfectly offset by the sweetness of the onions. Both were absolutely delicious, and the pleasant conversation was sidetracked for a couple of minutes when we both stuffed the first two pieces into our pie-holes as quickly as we could chew. After that we settled back into our normal well-mannered dinner conversation, but the beginning of the meal was a dangerous time for anything within reach that resembled a slice of pizza. It was a feeding frenzy.

Once the leftovers were boxed up we lingered a bit, slurping the watery remains of our drinks and making tentative plans for a grill-fest once the Madness winds down.

So now I'm sitting here at my desk this morning, not quite hungry, but still thinking about that box of cold pizza slices in the fridge and betting that they don't quite make it all the way to lunchtime.

It's gotta be better than my Tuesday leftovers--a can of Hormel chili, a couple of chopped-up hotdogs that I didn't have buns for, some shredded cheese, and the remaining chip fragments at the bottom of the bag of my Hint of Lime Tostidos that weren't big enough to be dipped in salsa.

Not a bad meal, but cold pizza from New York Pizza & Pasta has it beaten in spades.


Tuesday, March 06, 2007


Yippee! My weekend is finally here...

And Sticky arrives two weeks from today!!!

So there I was, dealing Ultimate Holdem to about the most annoying player I'd dealt to all night, and I noticed a lot of games closing around me. On Sunday night the casino went completely dead at midnight, and when I left at 4:00 am, there were only three games in the entire pit that had players on them. Last night was no different, except we that we had fewer dealers. Unfortunately, we still had too many, and after only being on the game for 20 minutes, Jovanka came and tapped me out.

I went to the Shift Manager and told him that I'd only been in twenty minutes, but since it was my Friday... And just like that--Mikey got out two hours early!

Anyhow, my goal is to always have a good post or two ready on Monday mornings, because my traffic meter shows that nobody reads this site on the weekends, but come Monday morning, I get hundreds of hits. Clearly the readership of are all hardworking and productive employees...

The point is--I want to post stuff for you all, but sometimes I'm just too tired. Yesterday was one of those times. I got home from work exhausted, and my feet and knees were killing me from just standing 'at ease' at a lifeless craps table for two hours straight. I popped a couple of Aleve tablets and ended up sleeping for about ten hours straight, with the unfortunate side effect of me accomplishing absolutely nothing yesterday except making a pot of coffee. Seriously. I walked thirty feet to the coffee maker and back, and the balance of the day, until I got ready for work, was either spent reading in bed or sitting on my ass surfing the internet.

So I never got around to posting what was on my mind--that being the 25th anniversary of the death of John Belushi. One major gripe is that he had a helluva lot more impact on American culture than that gold-digger Anna Nichole Smith ever did, yet he passed away with not much fanfare, and here we are three weeks later and Fox News (always running in the employee dining room) is still beating that particular dead cow horse.

I was never a huge fan of Belushi, aside from his work in Blues Brothers and Animal House, and hell, I was only fifteen when he died. But just like with Elvis, I remember where I was when I heard the news.

It was a Saturday, and I was a freshman in High School.

And I was at a party at my buddy Ken Hehl's house out in St. Peters, Missouri. Actually, he was a closer friend to my sister Nancy, but back then we kinda ran in the same pack. But there we were, hanging out in the basement, trying to light a fire in the fireplace and make sure there was enough 'slow' music on hand for when all the chicks showed up. And when people started showing up en masse, the news was announced and that was the topic of conversation for a few minutes. Of course then we went back to making sure that the Air Supply album and the slow mix tapes were ready just in case Kelly Mosher showed up and I needed a little musical assistance to help get me to second base...

Oh, she showed up all right, and we had a great time. I remember this dude named 'Lance' was trying to cock-block me, and this was back before the term had even been invented. I forgot what we called it back then, but he was tryin' to get on my woman. But it was to no avail, and Mikey spent lots of quality time in scoring position that night.

After the party ended and most people went home (1:00 am curfew for most of my friends back in those days) Ken, my sister, a couple other guys, and I were sitting up on the roof because it was a nice night out, and that's what teenagers did. We sat on the roofs of buildings. Anyhow, the topic of conversation was Ken preaching the gospel of his new favorite album and how it was going to be a HUGE hit and everyone should get a copy--every song was just awesome. The name of the album he was raving about?

Thriller, by Michael Jackson.

How do I remember all this you ask? Well, I remember the party pretty well--it was a legendary good time, setting the standard for all future parties of my teenage experience, and referred to in hushed and reverent tones for several years afterwards. But long before there was a blogspot, facebook, myspace, home computers, or even universal internet access, I kept a hand-written journal. And when I realized that yesterday was the anniversary of the death of Belushi, I *knew* that I'd written about it in my journal. So I dug it out--yes, I still have it--and did a little browsing.

Oh my god. I was so embarrassed for myself. I probably hadn't read anything in there for fifteen years or more. Nothing will induce a cringe faster than reading the personal thoughts of a hormone-addled yoot. (Well, maybe reading the personal thoughts of a hormone-addled adult, but here we are...)

Reading the experiences from 1982, a few thoughts struck me...

I can't believe I was so hung up on Candice Withers, that semi-stuck-up girl from Chesterfield. She wasn't that hot. And she never treated me that well, either. Oh well, she went off and got herself married two years after high school to a dude that looked like the dentist elf on Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer. Her wedding announcement was the last time I ever heard from her. We probably wear the same size pants now, anyways.

Kelly Mosher. Damn... She was the one that set me on that whole "Older women are gooood..." path. She was a junior. Thank you, Kelly, wherever you are.

Rocky III. I got to take two different girls to see it that summer--Candice and Debbie Rutkauskas. Debbie Rutkauskas was one of those girls you fight with in junior high because you have too many classes together and then come back to school in September to see that she suddenly turned into a smokin' hot cheerleader babe. And she only got better looking the deeper we got into high school. But she let me put my arm around her in the movie, which was almost the highlight of my summer. I'm sure she's an Uber-milf today, with that sexy little scar on her cheek. Eye of the tiger, Rock--Eye of the tiger!!!

Brian Rennick's 16th birthday party. That's where I met Maria Slingerland. She was a senior and a cheerleader. We had lots of fun together, and my parents hated her. Heh. We carried on for years, but the last time I talked to her was in 1990. I did, however, buy her a 40th birthday card last summer, but never sent it.

Asia. Big band in 1982. A little foreshadowing for last week at the employment office, no?

Whatever happened to Shari Newberry?

Interesting quote you probably won't hear from me again: "I have to go and get my hair cut today--it's really too long right now and it's starting to bother me."

Another great quote: "Yesterday was Father's Day and we went to Cyndi's for dinner (She lives in a trailer in Fenton now)." Damn near peed myself laughing at that one...

Do not mess with baby skunks.

I wanted to get a job at Dairy Queen? What the fuck?

Oh dear God, save me from the Mormons!

Anyhow, it was much fun reading about the stupid yet earth-shattering-at-the-time events of twenty five years ago. But damn, when I kick the bucket, all those old journals should get cremated with me--they're just too embarrassing for public consumption. And maybe a quarter-century later some goofy high school kid will post about the day he heard that Hurricane Mikey died. (Aboard his yacht, surrounded by his five twenty-something girlfriends, just after he'd added the final touches to his fifth bestseller...)

I just hope it's on a Saturday night. Several decades from now...


Sunday, March 04, 2007

Two Shots of Happy, One Shot of Sad

Well, I finally made it home after a very long night in the casino. We were doing one-twenties last night instead of just single hours on the tables, and let me tell you--if you're at a busy game, it just wears your ass out.

The highlight of the night was when I went on my 2:40 am break, and the employee dining room had a full-on breakfast spread buffet set up. I had the best-tasting French toast I've had in months, along with scrambled eggs, hashbrowns, bacon, coffee, and a tall glass of ice-cold milk. Damn it was good. I went back to the pit twenty minutes later full, happy, and ready to face the last hour of degenerates.

I ended up on a $5 shoe game populated with fun-loving chain smokers. When I finally got tapped out of there to go home, my eyes and nose were burning, and I felt like I had about six layers of casino funk on me. I clocked out, changed clothes, and headed for the door. I was dying of thirst when I got out of there, but my water bottle I keep in the truck was mostly empty, and when I got home, my Britta filter-pitcher was dry, too. Damn.

I needed a steaming hot shower, so I had a Nicholas Cage in Leaving Las Vegas moment while I stood there in the shower--as hot as I could stand it-- pounding an ice-cold Michelob Light. Unfortunately, my shower caddy only has enough room for one bottle, or I might've brought more with me. But I scraped the funk off of me, put on some clean clothes, and emerged refreshed.

But yesterday was an interesting day--I got two pieces of good news, and one piece of very bad news.

As far as the good news goes, I finally retired one of my more onerous student loans. I'd been paying over $400 per month on that bad boy since time immemorial, and yesterday I paid the last $109. Finito! Now, I did all kinds of juggling of paperwork in the past, and my payments were based on my ability to pay, and I know I still have some more out there, but at least it's a small reprieve and I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. I'm hoping I get a few months forbearance before they hit me with higher payments for the remainder of my debt, however. Finally--the State of California can go KISS MY ASS. They get no more money from me!

The second piece of good news came when I got to work last night and we had our weekly shift meeting with the bosses. Starting on March 12th, most of the dealers on Swing Shift, your humble correspondent included, will no longer be working 8:00 pm to 4:00 am--we're changing to 7:00 pm till 3:00 am. I always thought that made more sense, and have wanted that shift for some time now, but now it looks like almost everybody gets that shift. That's cool with me.

As far as the bad news goes, a couple weeks back, I went in to work one night and the roadmap said "Mikey B to Dice" instead of my usual Rapid Roulette/Ultimate Holdem string. No problemo--somebody had called in sick that night. Turns out that the guy who called in sick was in the hospital--he'd been feeling so ill for a couple of days that he thought he should go to the doctor. Well, the doctor sent him to the emergency room, and they did a bunch of tests on him. Out of the clear blue, the guy's body was overtaken with cancer. He's in the ICU now and I was told last night that they don't expect him to live much longer. Three weeks ago he was dealing dice and carrying on like the rest of us, and tonight his life is slipping away. So sad, too--he's only 36 years old and is leaving behind a wife and two little kids. Anyhow, I got this news from some of the other dealers on his regular crew who are taking up a collection to help his family with final expenses and whatnot. I gave all I could.

After that, it was pretty mellow around the dice pit last night, even though it was business as usual. It just gives one a reason to pause and think for a moment how precious life is and how easily it can be taken from us.

The quote at the top of this page was chosen for it's tongue-in-cheekiness, but never has it seemed so appropriate. Live every day as if it were your last, for some day you are sure to be right...


Thursday, March 01, 2007

The Spaghetti Incident

Last week when I did my grocery shopping, Vons had Chef-Boyardee on sale for a dollar a can. Not a bad deal, and I like the ravioli--it's something I'd probably never make myself. So I picked up six assorted cans to restock the cupboard--ravioli, spaghetti & meatballs, and even mini-ravioli.

Well, on Tuesday night, I was getting hungry. I'd eaten some chips and salsa with my beer when I first got home from work the night before, but for the entire rest of the day I'd consumed nothing but a pot of coffee. So around 8:00 pm I was feeling a bit famished. I was spending the evening chatting on the T2V site with Sticky, Dougie, Doc and the rest of the degenerates, and I kept complaining that I was hungry. They were getting tired of hearing it and to a person recommended that I just shut the hell up already and go get some food. The problem was that I had no 'instant' food handy besides chips and salsa, and I didn't want that again. I either had to fix something or go grab some fast food somewhere. But my inherent laziness was feuding with itself--I was too lazy to go drive somewhere to pick up a burger or a burrito or something, plus it was cold outside, and I was absolutely feeling too lazy to go bang pots around in the kitchen.

Then I remembered that I had the Chef-Boyardee in the cabinet and a fully-functional microwave on the counter. Hell, a kitchen gadget-savvy guy like me even has some tomato-stain resistant Rubbermaid on hand too, just in case of situations like that.

Spaghetti and Meatballs it was, and it would only take about three minutes, not my usual all-day affair when I'm making a pot of spaghetti sauce from scratch.

Any bachelors or college students who may be reading this are fully aware of the pop-top nature of Chef-Boyardee cans. Lift the ring, pull the lid off, empty into a bowl, microwave, stir, enjoy. Easy. Unfortunately, as soon as I lifted the ring, it came off in my hand, no lid attached, no access to the pasta goodness locked within.

Damn. That just wouldn't do.

How to get the goodies out of the can and into the bowl? A can opener was enlisted for the task, but the rim was too deep, rendering my can opener useless. I turned the can over, thinking I'd use the Vito & Johnny Cakes method and go in through the back side. No such luck, as the can had a rounded bottom, no rim like a proper tin can, making my can opener's journey to obsolescence almost complete.

Hmmm... Well, if can opener wasn't going to work, I figured I could force my way in with the back-end of a spoon, kind of like opening a tube of biscuits.

So I set the can back right-side up on the counter, took out the heaviest tablespoon I could find, and pressed the end of it on the seam of the can where the lid meets the edge. And I pressed until my fingers turned purple and the lid was dented. No luck.

At this point, I was tempted to just chuck the whole thing in the garbage in frustration. After all, it only cost me a buck. But I wasn't going to be defeated by a 99-cent can of processed pasta and sauce.

After thinking about it for a minute, I decided to take the Glenn-Close-in-Fatal-Attraction route and got out the biggest damn butcher knife I could find. Not only would I finally break the seal and get to the tasty pseudo-Italian treat that I now *had* to have, but I'd teach that can a lesson that it wouldn't soon forget!

One Kung-Fu yell and an over-the-head stab into the defective lid was all it took. Unfortunately, I attacked with just a little too much gusto and the can, and it's contents, literally exploded all over the kitchen and all over me. There was sauce on the ceiling, counter, floor, fridge, stovetop, and all over my face, head, and shirt.

So the kitchen was covered in thick red goo, I'm standing there holding a butcher's knife and looking like Mel Gibson at the end of The Patriot, and that's about the time my roommate decided he needed to come and fix a pot of coffee.

He caught one glimpse of me, put his hands up, took a step back, and said Dude... It was BOB that set that cup of paint thinner on your truck--not me!!!

Once he realized I wasn't dismembering anyone or anything, we had a good laugh. And I spent the next half hour with a bottle of 409 and a roll of paper towels, cleaning up the mess.

It would've been a lot less hassle to just order a pizza. Next time I'm calling Metro.